27-Feb-2004 -- We have been talking about bagging a Confluence for a while now, usually over a beer or two. Anyway at the beginning of the week the call went out, let's get serious and get some this weekend! Most could only manage a 1-day trip so we narrowed it down to getting 29N 29E, which would have been a comfortable 1-day trip. Then it was "we could also go for 29N 28E if we push it!" The distances were calculated and the call went out for a gaggle of jerry cans, the wives saw the glint come into our eyes and decided they were not letting the kids anywhere near us on this trip, and the idea of any of the boys leaving their toys behind to be navigators went out the window. The crowd got bigger - 8 full-growns and 2 wee laddies - and the fleet got more diverse - 1 Land Cruiser, 1 Explorer, 4 Cherokees (3 bog standard heaps and 1 new frog-eye). Thursday night saw 6 cars getting loaded with fuel and other supplies including lashings of beer and whisky that would not fit into the available jerry cans and so were loaded directly into stomachs. We were ready for an early start.
We met red-eyed on the ring-road bridge over the Nile at 6:30 am and headed out past the pyramids at Gīza, to the Baḥariyya road where tanks were topped up to squeeze the last drop into them before setting out on over 550 km without a drop of fuel available. We turned off onto the Abū Gharādiq road 200 km later - scenting a way point for those who follow without GPS but have a keen sense of smell - and then west across the desert when the Abū Gharādig road turned north. We were looking for a track posted on several maps that runs west from the road. We did not find the turn off but found the track shortly afterwards. We followed it for 25 km before heading southwest into the confluence point.
The sat imagery showed escarpments around the point and this approach seemed to be best. The escarpments turned out to be no problem and the point can be approached from any direction. We were on the confluence point 29N 29E at 11:00 am and took the required photos. It is about 60 km from the nearest road. Bleached bones showed that a camel had chosen this desolate Confluence to die some time ago.
We then set off west towards 29N 28E. The imagery shows a large depression with escarpments just to the west of 29N 29E and we planned to skirt to the north of this depression. However, the escarpments had plenty of access and tracks leading into it, so we carried on heading west. The bottom of the depression was fairly soft and a bit of a grind, so we dropped our tyre pressures and carried on. Unfortunately, one of the jeeps was overheating with the grind and we had to abort the attempt on 29N 28E and turn for home after lunch while the engine cooled.
Hitting a sand "motorway", as Dave aptly described it, we all maxed up to whatever our engines, our suspension, our Cadecs (poor Dave) or our nerves could handle, and hot tailed it northeast while practicing our take-off and landing techniques. Having identified a long line of sayf dunes on the sat images, and near the Abū Gharādiq road, and boys being boys we had to stop for a play. We all managed to get stuck, and practice our digging techniques, snatching, and the use of sand mats. Then thoroughly satisfied that we had been off-road, we headed back to Cairo and a barbeque. We had to seriously make up to the wives, having left them stranded at home with the kids and no transport all day. Next time we will be less ambitious and all go together?